Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Last House On The Left (1972) DVD Review
The Last House On The Left
Reviewed by: Daniel HooperRead Scott Macdonald's film review of The Last House On The Left
The Last House On The Left is an important film for many reasons and this uncut three-disc package does a great job of emphasising its importance. The first disc is packed with extras and features not one but two feature commentaries. The first, by the director and producer, Wes Craven and Sean S Cunningham respectively, focuses a lot on the controversy surrounding the film and the intentions of filmmakers in the making of this film. It is honest and enjoyable, although not lacking meat at times – at one point Wes has to remind his co-commentator that “we’re not supposed to just watch our movie, Sean”.
If the first commentary is a friendly affair, then the second commentary by the three actors Fred Lincoln, Marc Sheffler, and David Hess is an altogether more tense talk track. Lincoln is a bitter man, perturbed about not being featured on the film's artwork and not a fan of the film, while Hess and Sheffler occasionally seem allied against him. It is an anecdote-ridden commentary, ranging from trivia such as who-slept-with-who on-set, to a very amusing story about Lincoln saving a lady’s life only to be screamed at because of his role in this film.
The 40-minute making of documentary Celluloid Crime Of The Century is made up of retrospective interviews concerning the film, featuring Wes Craven, Sean Cunningham and the villains of the film David Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, and Marc Sheffler. Celluloid Crime Of The Century is an interesting retrospective that covers how the lead actress Sandra Cassel (not involved in this package) was genuinely scared during the making, that the original script was more explicit and violent, as well as the aftermath for the cast and crew and the affect on their personal lives. The documentary also isn’t afraid on showing the conflicts between the people involved in the making, adding more of interest to the visually dull talking heads format.
In addition to the commentaries and documentary on disc one, there are a couple of good featurettes; for fans of the distinct hippy-ish sounds of the film, the 10-minute Scoring Last House features David Hess, Last House’s main villain Krug/original score composer playing songs on an acoustic guitar and talking about his history as a musician and his work writing the Last House score. The other featurette Krug Conquers England is about 25 minutes long and also features David Hess playing songs, and documents the first ever uncut screening of Last House On The Left in the UK, charting how Carl Daft of Blue Underground films got councils to veto BBFC's ban of the film and the various arguments against censorship.
Other assorted miscellany on disc one includes an excerpt from the short film Tales That’ll Tear Your Heart Out by Wes Craven and featuring David Hess and almost 20 minutes of out-takes and rushes – both features are silent and are really for the hardcore fan only, with the short film excerpt being indecipherable without sound and the outtakes only reiterating what was already seen in the film. The disc also features some excellent trailers and TV/radio spots.
The main extra of the second disc is an alternative cut of the film, Krug and Co, which, though a little bit less gory, is not hugely different from the original. The biggest difference here is Mari’s parents finding their attacked daughter still alive, albeit briefly. Perhaps the best thing about the Krug and Co cut is the scratchy and jumpy feel of the footage, adding an authentic grindhouse charm to the material.
The second disc also features a couple of extras exclusive to this package. There is a straight-to-camera interview with the distributor Carl Daft talking about the court battles this film faced and the release of this DVD uncut. The other exclusive of this DVD is five minutes of silent footage of shooting one of the sex scenes from the dailies and is very unpleasant to watch, even more so than what is shown in the film.
The third disc of this set is a repackaged slasher film documentary which references The Last House On The Left. Going To Pieces – The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film is pretty much as the title says, a roughly chronological telling of the genres history, from its inspirations and influences to its post-modern revival in Scream and the development of torture porn. Though it features interviews with a lot of the genre's key players (including Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Tom Savini, and Rob Zombie) and as an introduction to the slasher film genre it does cover quite a lot of ground, the documentary, however, is spoiled by its cheesy narrator, repetitive music and title cards, and its insistence on showing spoilers for almost every film referenced. All in all, a very interesting story told by people lacking equal enthusiasm for the documentary film genre.
The filmmaker’s commentary is a bit rambling, self-congratulatory and occasionally preposterous, putting Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom on the same level as Feardotcom - more irritating than illuminating. Elsewhere on disc three, there are 30 minutes of extended interviews which are blissfully interruption free, three quizzes of various knowledge levels to test your horror knowledge, a note from the author of the book which this film is based, and a trailer for the documentary.
This is a good package with a lot of material and comes in a nice cardboard box with artwork from the original posters, but it should be noted that most of the material in this set is available on the previously released special edition, while the documentary is also available separately. Still, if you don’t own another version of this film or really want to own the uncut version of the film, this three-disc set will serve you well.Reviewed on: 02 Nov 2008